No distractions allowed for Bears' offense
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If Brandon Marshall is upset with his level of involvement in the offense -- and he absolutely shouldn't be, considering he has been targeted more than anyone else -- coach Marc Trestman says it won't become a distraction.
For the record, and contrary to what has been implied in some reports, Marshall hasn't complained publicly about a lack of involvement.
He has been targeted 42 times -- 10 times more than both Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett -- and he leads the club with 27 receptions and 348 receiving yards.
He was targeted 14 times at Detroit but had just 7 catches for 79 yards and expressed frustration after the game, although it seemed to be directed more toward his own production on plays when he wasn't the primary receiver.
"I'm going to handle it when it happens," Trestman said of any potential problems involving players wanting the ball more. "I've never been on a team where the key wide receivers didn't come to you and want the ball more.
"That's just part of the makeup and the wiring system of players who play that position, so it's certainly not unusual."
Trestman doesn't have much time during the course of a game to converse with any players, including Marshall. But he doesn't discourage conversation, and he has talked on the sidelines with the go-to guy in the Bears' passing game.
"I don't talk to players very much on the sideline unless I've got a reason to coach them up," Trestman said. "(Marshall) hasn't been extraordinary in coming up to me and saying a few words.
"He's done it in a really good way, and we've had discussions, but it hasn't happened a lot."
Last season Marshall was targeted 194 times, and only the Lions' Calvin Johnson (205) was targeted more.
Marshall caught 118 passes for 1,508 yards, both franchise records. He had 41 percent of the team's catches and 45 percent of its receiving yards, but the Bears finished 29th in passing yards and 28th in total yards.
The goal this year is a formula where the ball is more evenly distributed, even though Marshall will remain the go-to guy.
"He'll always get (the ball)," Trestman said. "He's still the most targeted player. We've used other players and spread the ball around, but we haven't done it (by) minimizing Brandon's targets.
"They're still the same as they've always been. We're finding ways to get him open, and we're finding ways to get other guys open as well. We've just got to do it better."
Actually Marshall's targets are down a bit. He's on pace for 168, and for a proportionate drop in production to 108 receptions and 1,392 yards.
"It's not like he's getting two balls a game," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "I think he understands at the end of the day for us to get where we want to go offensively it's got to include other people."
Marshall said as much during training camp and hypothesized that catching so many balls and taking so many hits probably played a role in the hip injury that necessitated his off-season surgery.
His percentage of the pass-catching pie is more equitable so far this season. He has 28.4 percent of the receptions and 34.5 percent of the receiving yards.
If those numbers plummet, Marshall is sure to speak up, and he won't be shy.
"I don't know if Brandon does diplomacy," Cutler said. "It's more just like, 'I need the ball.' He lets us know. He lets me know.
"But I think he's gotten a lot better over the years of handling those situations professionally and in the right manner. It used to be a little more dramatic than it is now."
In his eighth year in the league and after 839 receptions and 8,103 receiving yards, Marshall's input matters, and when he talks about needing the ball more, people listen.
"Brandon goes to (Trestman)," Cutler said. "Brandon goes to him during games. Brandon goes to him during practice. Brandon comes to me. Brandon's a smart dude.
"I think all those guys we have out there know coverages. They know when they're open.
"They know what's working and what isn't working, and I think Marc trusts them. He knows through history that these guys are not going to just make something up just to get the ball. It's a good thing to have guys like that."
It's a good thing, as long as they get the ball.
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